With the route out of lockdown officially mapped out, it’s not long until we’ll be able to socialise outside again. From Monday 29th March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed in England. This includes general outdoor spaces as well as private gardens, meaning families and friends will be reunited just in time for Easter.
So, whether you're looking forward to an Easter egg hunt with the family, balmy evening drinks or alfresco dinners, now is the perfect time to go outside and get your garden ‘spring-ready’ and in good shape to receive guests again.
So, we've enlisted the help of Lucy Henderson, head of interior design at My Bespoke Room, who has shared her top tips on how to make the most of your outdoor spaces so you can socialise in style and comfort this spring. Whether you've got an urban patio or a sprawling slice of countryside, everyone can make use of these clever outdoor hacks.
Start with an ‘inside out’ mentality
After spending so much time indoors over the past year it may seem counterintuitive to want your outdoor area to echo your indoors. Blurring the lines between indoors and out, however, can help to create a harmonious, peaceful and relaxing outdoor space.
You can start small, moving some of your favourite pillows to outdoor seating areas. Or, if space allows, you could consider zoning your garden to replicate an open-plan living, dining and kitchen area.
Outdoor kitchens are continuing to be a big trend in the interiors world with sales expected to rise this summer. Patios and decking can be seen as your outdoor living and dining rooms, dressing them with plush rugs, tables and chairs.
Make it homely not haughty
For many of us, March will be the first time we’ve been allowed to meet up in large(ish) groups since Summer 2020. If you’re feeling anxious, don’t worry – it’s completely normal (here's a grounding technique to help with post-lockdown angst). That’s why it’s important to ensure you’re feeling comfortable and relaxed in your outdoor setting.
Adding some personal, homely touches to your balcony, patio or garden will instantly make you feel more at ease. Soft furnishings like bean bags and pillows are a must-have to create a comfy space. Then, while it’s still cold, you could even bring out your very own literal ‘comfort blanket’.
With British weather being characteristically unpredictable, I’d also recommend investing in some storage. Simple plastic boxes will do. Or, for those that prefer the minimalist look, you could explore bench seat storage.
Let there be light
Despite the days getting longer, lighting remains an important consideration, says Lucy. Let’s face it, after not seeing our friends and family in such a long time, these outdoor gatherings are likely to go on well into sundown.
Adding some tasteful fairy lights or candles will help create a warm, welcoming atmosphere that will keep those conversations flowing well into the night. Alternative options to explore include rustic chimeneas or firepits. Not only will they help keep your guests warm, but they can also double up as a table or novel garden feature during the day.
Create a multi-functional outdoor space
The principle of zoning, which is so key to interiors, should also be applied outside. You can maximise your outdoor space by creating purposeful zones that serve different functions such as a private shady reading nook separated from an open entertaining space or kids play zone.
In the same way we would use furniture or screens inside; large planters can work wonders to provide this distinction. Tall grasses are very effective at softly screening off areas while allowing light to still filter through.
Varying the flooring material can also provide a visual distinction without obstructing the view. Even something as simple as an outdoor rug can really do the trick.
Don’t be afraid to cover up
It’s okay if your garden is looking worse for wear. With a few sneaky tricks you can disguise any unsightly areas. Nasty, dull concrete patios can be made classy if coated with a dark colour to mute those worn patches. Alternatively, you can hide dreary floors with artificial grass. It’s soft underfoot and can even be hoovered.
Lucy’s favourite outdoor design disguise involves injecting a bit of colour to help hide tattered fences or ugly walls. If you love prints, consider looking for a local artist to help install a mural. Lucy Tiffney is a great example – her artistic expertise could help brighten any garden.
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